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Byron Shire
September 24, 2021

Bangalow ‘waterfront’ concept plan launched

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From grandparents to  young kids, there was enthusiasm for a new plan to reclaim Bangalow's weir and parklands at Sunday's meeting.
From grandparents to young kids, there was enthusiasm for a new plan to reclaim Bangalow’s weir and parklands at Sunday’s meeting.

Efforts to revitalize the Bangalow Parklands along Byron Creek took another big step forward on Sunday (March 23) with encouraging news on the progress of the campaign.

A capacity crowd of around 80 filled Bangalow’s Heritage House Museum to hear a range of speakers, including Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson, outline the project and explain its importance to the local community.

The meeting launched a community appeal to fund a master plan to update the parkland surrounding the old Bangalow creek weir.

The aim is to revamp the entire waterfront precinct with resources ranging from rainforest walks to facilities such as new playground equipment, benches and even a bandstand.

The community fundraising campaign centres on the plan to let people ‘Buy a bit of Bangalow’ by donating to the cost of the restoration. The entire 30,000 sq m Parkland area, has been mapped out and gridded, and is being ‘sold off’in lots of one square metre. A bumper sticker urging people to ‘Bring back Bangalow’s waterfront’ is just one part of the plan to raise money.

Meeting organiser Christobel Munson reminded people it was a chance to ‘own a virtual bit of riverbank’ and smiled as she acknowledged it didn’t mean land title.

Just as the original weir was funded and built by locals in the 1920s, almost a century later a new generation of residents now has a chance to restore and renew a special part of the Bangalow environment.

Chaired by local journalist Mick O’Regan, the crowded meeting heard wonderful stories from the heyday of the old weir, where generations of locals learnt to love the water and enjoyed community events from picnics to swimming carnivals.

Lynn Smith recounted colourful stories from her childhood with hilarious accounts of battles in home-made corrugated iron canoes, swimming carnivals and community picnics.

Lynn’s father, the late Bruce Beckinsale, was the Bangalow swimming coach as well as a fearless high diver who thrilled crowds with his daring performances from the (then) 12m diving board.

Local civil engineer Chris Taylor outlined what constructing the project will involve, from repairing the cracked weir wall to building a fish ladder.

Dr. Tony Parkes, from the Big Scrub Landcarp and Bangalow Land and River Care, revealed the various environmental treasures to be found in this remnant of the once great rainforest.

Businessman Martin Brook from Brookfarm offered a practical assessment of the value of the parkland area to local businesses as well as the wider community, and encouraged local businesses to get involved.

Finally Mayor Simon Richardson explained Byron Shire Council’s perspective on the process. This covered the practical hurdles Council needs to face before it can approve the Development Application to undertake the necessary work to restore the weir. The DA was submitted by the Bangalow Historical Society’s Parklands team last November.

Bumper stickers to support the campaign may be purchased from Heritage House during its opening hours, where any donations to the community funding program can be made. An exhibition illustrating the evolution of the weir and Parklands is on display at the House.

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